Is The Trend Really Changing For Working Women?

India’s census data, government surveys, studies by numerous agencies and reports, all imply the same thing. There is a long way to go before an equal number of women start working in India, as men. Findings of the National Sample Survey indicated that in 2011-2012, 24.8 of every 100 women worked in rural areas, while the number, when it came to men, was 54.3. Women’s working participation is extremely less in urban areas. To every 54.6 employed men, there were just 14.7 working women. An article published in The Indian Express reports that the participation of rural women in the workforce has fallen sharply in India. It says, that compared to 49% in 2005, only 36% rural women were found to be a part of the workforce in 2012.

The sharp decline in the number of working women in rural areas is primarily because of the deteriorating number of jobs suitable for them. Women in rural areas, who are mostly burdened with domestic roles and taking care of the family, were seen to do only part-time jobs near their homes. And the most preferred form of employment was farming related jobs. However, the number of farming jobs has been shrinking, without an adequate increase in other employment opportunities. A New York Times op-ed, published in 2015, tried explaining this absence of women from India’s workforce. The primary reason was due to India’s traditional gender norms, where male members and families are paranoid with women working with other men and think that their work is to stay at home and give the best at domestic work.

The recently released Census 2011 data shows important insights into how marriage has an effect on woman’s job visions, and how that influences the children and gender preferences. The period of 15-49 years is normally considered the age where women shift from youth to adulthood and where they can get married and bare children. However, the ideal age has been blurring in most urban households and the idea of divorce, open marriages and live-in have come into the picture. But not a very huge division is seen in the preference for a male child. Both working and non-working women prefer male children but working women want lesser children than the nonworking majority. In the child-bearing age group, 27% of unmarried women are working compared with 41% of married women, which contradicts the myth and notion that women don’t work after marriage. The rationale behind this is that most unmarried women are young and families resist the concept of them working. Marginal working women, who have irregular jobs for less than duration of six months in a year, show how adversely it affects the sex ratio. Factors such as economic and social constraints still dominate the need for a male child. This divide has a lot to do with the urban and rural lifestyle of women. Half of the married women in rural areas work while in urban areas just 22% go out for jobs.


This shows a very saddening truth about the urban and rural working class of women. While the arguments about women facing discrimination and sexual assault in workplaces are coming forward in urban areas, the very fact that women in rural are not even allowed to explore any option other than farming shows how much work needs to be done, in order to change the scenario.

Centre for Social Research, combining empirical research and action has gone full swing to ensure that women are empowered, both in the rural and urban sector. The Gender Training Institute works to facilitate women’s empowerment and social justice through capacity building and training-related activities. It attempts to talk not only about what issues exist that is a barrier to gender equality but also how they can be challenged.

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